How many people went down inside Titanic


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Tom, the number of corpses floating about and even available to be recovered would depend on a lot of varables, wind and wave being but two of them, but also
a)Whether or not decomposition gasses would have left them floating,
b)possible molestation by hungry sea life, and of course,
c)whether or not some were close enough to the ship to be sucked down or were trapped inside.

It would be handy to say that the bodies not recovered were sucked down, but this is anything but a certainty. Nor would I put much stock in anyone being able to easily see them in even the most heavily traveled shipping lanes. Spotting small objects on the ocean is not the easiest thing to do in the world. I've taken part in man overboard drills and a few real man overboard evelutions to have learned this the hard way. Despite smoke floats, flashing lights and dye markers put in the water, I have never once spotted the man who went in.
 
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Tom Pappas

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I don't disagree with your enumeration, but

a) I would have to know the water temperature to make any kind of judgment as to whether decomposition even took place. If it was 0ºC, very little would have. On the other hand, the bodies were caught by the Gulf Stream, so it might have been much warmer.

a½) I am assuming that just about everyone on board got a lifebelt, since they were readily available to all. This makes the decomposition conjecture moot.

b) I don't remember reading that any half-eaten corpses were seen (although some had been nibbled at), which implies to me that the number of completely-eaten corpses was minimal.

c) My supposition is that the missing were either trapped inside or sucked inside. It comes to the same thing - they went down with the ship.

It seems unlikely to me that 1,200 of the missing floated away individually, but 300 were clumped together to be spotted by other ships. That just doesn't add up.
 
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Timothy Brandsoy

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How long were the cork lifebelts good for before they became waterlogged? They may have floated for a day or a week and then sunk with the deceased.

Even in the cold water decomposition will occur. The salt water and sun are harsh. While Thomson Beattie was not in the water, just cold air and sun, he was in "ghastly" condition when they found him and the others in a lifeboat a month later.
 

Don Tweed

Member
They did find a dining steward, months later on the Adriatic, i think!, floating in the water. If this tells of the integrity of the lifevests, i don't know, Lowe gave up on a collapsible, and it was found floating a few months later with three victims inside.
Must have been a strange sight to those on board.
After all the headlines the disaster garnered.
Culture and class do come into play with those lost. We all know the story of the Goodwins and others who stayed behind to wait the end.
One persons idea of what is right and what is wrong will clash with that of another.
Self preservation is a top priority.
All creatures share that aspect.
To stay together?, to give up?, or to do your job to the end?, or to escape...
It was a drama played on the stage of the world...
I heard that somewhere!!
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-Don
 
a)Some of the bodies that were buried at sea were done so because decomposition had become a problem and facilities on the recovery ships were limited.

b)A fully devoured corpse by definition is one that will never be recovered, much less counted. We can never know how many if any were dealt with by the ocean this way.

c)Or they simply floated away to God knows where. There's no hard and fast rule which says they simply must stay together. Wind wave, currents and predetors to say nothing of any number of factors we can only guess at may dictate otherwise.
 

Ben Holme

Member
As Don pointed out, one steward, W. F. Cheverton, was indeed recovered in late June by the steamer Ilford - the last very last body to be recovered (albeit buried at sea). Significantly, Cheverton was found floating *alone* which, to me, suggests that wind, tide, ice etc dispersed them fairly quickly and that they didn't remain "clumped" for an appreciable length of time. Two months previously, the later recovery ships, Montmagny and Algerine also only found single bodies floating.

Hence, it is my belief that most of the unrecovered 1200 simply dispersed and floated away, many finding their way into the gulf stream where decomposition occurs more quickly. It is also worth poiting out that the bodies of many 1st and 2nd class passengers were never recovered, and since it is rather unlikely that any people in either of these groups were trapped below decks, it seems reasonable to assume that they remained on the surface after the ship sank, and that they drifted away from the area of ocean that the Mackay-Bennett would later search.

Ben
 
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Tom Pappas

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Yeah, but if you were First Class, the probability of your body being found was 39/130 = 30%. For Second Class, that number falls to 32/166 = 19%, and for Third Class, 76/536 = 14%.

Or how about this: if everyone had the same access to the weather decks as the First Class did, the number of Second Class bodies found should be 50 (instead of 32), and the number of Third Class, 160 (rather than 76).

Let's try this another way: the total number of passengers who died was 832 - 130 1st Class, 166 2nd Class, and 536 3rd Class. The total number of passengers recovered was 147. If the bodies recovered were proportional to the total by class, they should be 24, 29, and 94 instead of the 39, 32, and 76 that actually were.

The only other way to interpret the data is to posit that the winds, currents, and carnivores selectively disposed of proportionately more 2nd Class victims than 1st, and more 3rd Class than 2nd. I simply can't believe that Nature is that class-conscious.
 
Tom, nature wasn't class councious. It was just the luck of the draw. This simply is not something that can be quantified one way or another by slide-rule logic. The wind and the wave doesn't care about that. It just does it's thing and the chips fall where they may.

You may be right about a lot of things...or the bodies all clustered together may have broken up into smaller clumps going to wherever and the search vessels didn't look in the right place

We can guess...and some of what you say may be spot on the money...or it may not be. We'll never really know
 
I think Tom has a point. The low percentage of third class bodies recovered suggests that either many third class passengers never made it to the deck, or if they did, they were not wearing lifebelts. I still think it's very likely that a fair number were not wearing lifebelts. As Mike says, we can't be sure and can only make intelligent guesses. My own guess is that the bodies in lifebelts had much the same windage and blew away in a group from those without. Given even a ¼ knot difference in speed, the difference in 24 hrs is 8 miles. Mackay-Bennett didn't sight bodies until the morning of April 21st.
 

Ben Holme

Member
Tom, just to clarify--I referred to 1st and 2nd class in particular as they represented the group least likely to have gone down with the ship below decks. Percentages aside, we are still left with 230 1st/2nd class bodies that were never recovered (round figures).

If 230 people didn't go down with the ship (due to easy access to the boat decks, guidance by stewards etc), it is safe to assume that many of the unrecovered 3rd class (particularly those who congregated on the aft well-deck) and crew didn't either. Granted, the low percentage of 3rd class recoveries suggests that many in this group were indeed trapped below, the above figures seem otherwise to support the theory that most simply drifted away.
 
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Tom Pappas

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MHS: Slide-rule logic (or, more precisely, statistical inference) can quantify the expected values with a fair degree of confidence. The sample size is large enough to state that 94 3rd Class bodies (plus or minus a handful) should have been recovered. But only 76 were.

DG: Does it make sense to you that only 20% of the bodies were in one large clump? Wouldn't any other large clumps (or 1,200 single bodies for that matter) have been seen by the hundreds of ships that traversed those waters over the next weeks and months? I am having trouble imagining how 1/5 of the bodies could all be in one place, but nearly all of the other 4/5 were never seen again.

BH: Point taken. The "missing" do represent the majority of all classes, but the differential in "percentage missing by class" remains statistically significant. If anything, the number of missing 1st and 2nd Class victims could be said to be artificially inflated by the acts of altruism that are integral to Titanic lore, e.g. Guggenheim, Astor, Mrs. Straus. How much this occurred is, of course, impossible to estimate. But it could skew the percentages recovered somewhat, if you accept the idea that 1st and 2nd Class gentlemen went quietly to their fates playing cards in the Smoking Rooms. If they had been on deck, the discrepancy vis-a-vis 3rd Class recovered would be magnified, because more of them (and proportionately fewer 3rd Class) would have been recovered.

(All of which, of course, blithely ignores the number of 3rd Class passengers who deliberately chose to stay below with their families.)
 
>>MHS: Slide-rule logic (or, more precisely, statistical inference) can quantify the expected values with a fair degree of confidence. <<

But not with 100% certainty. Strange things often happen at sea which defy logic, and the sea can't do math. Bottom line, we can guess, but we can't know. Dave Gittins gave a pretty good alternative possibility.

Mind you, I'm not saying you're wrong. The problem is that we can't really prove anything one way or another and the sliderule doesn't get you there.
 
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Tom Pappas

Guest
Strange things often happen at sea which defy logic, and the sea can't do math.
It can't circumvent the Law of Probability, either.

If anybody can come up with a rational explanation for the statistical reality, I'd like to hear it. In the absence of such a theory, however, it should be obvious that the 3rd Class passengers weren't represented proportionally outside the ship when it went down.

I say, "a fair degree of confidence."

You say, "not with 100% certainty."

Let's call the while thing off.
 
>>It can't circumvent the Law of Probability, either.<<

I didn't know the ocean studied law. (And who said it's a "law" anyway?) It's a body that just does it's thing and to hell with what we try to predict...which in any event is only as good as the information we have and the assumptions we make. If the information is scarce to non-existant, or just plain bad, and the assumptions equally bogus, then the whole thing falls flat on it's face.

This is also known as the GIGO factor. Garbage in, garbage out.

And notice the key word; probability! As a chum pointed out, probability would indicate that the toss of a coin would probably result in heads coming up half of the time, and tails the other half.

Only what actually happens when you try it? You get all kinds of results depending on how far or how hard, the coin is flipped, or results can be skewed by the flick of the wrist.

The sea works exactly the same way.

The variables we don't know and can't know have a nasty habit of tossing a monkey wrench in what we expect.

And with that, I'll bid this whole thing a fond adios. You've made your point and I've made mine.
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small question, probably answered somewhere else but i can't find it.
when talking about bodies being eaten, eaten by what? my understanding (poor that it is)is that there is very little sea life out there (apart from on the wreck site) so what would have eaten the bodies? or would the natural bacteria in our bodies do it over time? also how much time would this take?
happy.gif
kaz
happy.gif
 
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Tom Pappas

Guest
There are 10 kinds of people: those who understand binary notation, and those who don't. The same is true, I suspect, of statistics.
 
There are 10 kinds of people: those who understand binary notation, and those who don't. The same is true, I suspect, of statistics.

Y'know, as an ex-programmer, I actually understand that statement! And I'd have to agree that any random sample that exhibits radically different results BY CLASS when subjected to the same variables, is indicative of some kind of external bias.

That there's no getting around; the sea may well be unpredictable, but it's pretty doubtful that it exhibits any sentient preference for Steerage mortality. No, other explanations must be sought there. All the statistical analyses I've seen show a stong bias unrelated to the sinking alone.

Cheers,
John
 
Just ducking in....

I'm sure I've seen on another discussion the idea of the recovery of first class bodies taking preference over the recovery of third class. Wasn't it something to do with proving the demise of those with large estates to be settled? I'm not saying I believe it, it's just a notion.

Ducking back out...

Cheers,

Boz
 
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Tom Pappas

Guest
Iain, I believe you are correct. Space for victims on the recovery ships was limited, and the policy you mentioned was adopted. You can find a very thorough (if undocumented) enumeration of recovered, returned, and buried at sea on Garth Wangemann's web site.
 
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